No. 2: Reuben Foster Overtakes NaVorro Bowman as 49ers’ Best Linebacker
This isn’t any slight against perennial All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman. In fact, it might be exactly what Bowman needs at this point in his career.
Back in 2013, Bleacher Report’s Martin Telleria wrote how Bowman had surpassed now-retired linebacker Patrick Willis as the 49ers’ best linebacker. The suggestion and trend likely would have continued had Bowman not suffered his gruesome knee injury in the 2014 NFC Championship game and Willis not retired in 2015.
Yes, Bowman returned that same year and led the NFL in tackles (116) and made yet another Pro Bowl. But as Pro Football Focus pointed out last year, Bowman’s 62.0 overall grade and poor pass coverage didn’t exactly make him an ideal candidate.
Tack on another season-ending injury in 2016, and one can see why Bowman might need some help.
Former Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster is about as big a playmaking defender as the team could have hoped for.
Likely starting off his rookie campaign as the defenses WILL linebacker — which is often tasked with being the primary playmaker at this position — it shouldn’t be too long before Foster takes over the accolade of being San Francisco’s best linebacker.
Bowman is still the captain and elder statesman. But Foster will be the guy the 49ers ask to make the big plays.